Effort to Boost Civic Engagement in Detroit Gets Financial Boost

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

As election season kicks off, you’re going to begin to feel inundated with political campaigns and rhetoric as politicians work to earn your vote. It’s often hard to feel informed of all the choices you’ll be asked to make in the voting booth. CitizenDetroit aims to make the electorate in the city better informed of the candidates and options.

Civic decision-making is height of mind for its founder, Sheila Cockrel, and now Knight Foundation is throwing additional support behind CitizenDetroit’s mission. Knight recently announced a $1.5 million grant for CitizenDetroit to continue and bolster its mission.

Cockrel joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to discuss the mission and future of CitizenDetroit. Cockrel says CitizenDetroit aims to arm the electorate of Detroit with the facts.

The idea was to take complex policy issues and create a set of tools that make the content accessible to people to understand and probe deeply the meaning of the policies, and secondarily, to give people ways to know the candidates,” says Cockrel.

Cockrel sees the work of CitizenDetroit as crucial for to strengthen local democracy in Detroit.

Local democracy is the bedrock of the American system, and we see a way for the work we’re doing, in collaboration with others, to strengthen that.”

Knight Foundation Detroit program director Katy Locker also joins Detroit Today to talk about the motivation behind their support of CitizenDetroit. She says the personal engagement of CitizenDetroit events are a big reason for the Knight Foundation’s support.

We increasingly don’t even know if the things we read are real,” says Locker. ”But the person sitting across the table telling you about his story and his neighborhood since the 1930’s, he’s real.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: WDET/Laura Herberg

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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